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Flood threat looms over 230 tribal villages in East Godavari district

Boats and launches anchored at River Godavari and Sabari confluence at Kunavaram mandal of East Godavari district
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Boats and launches anchored at River Godavari and Sabari confluence at Kunavaram mandal of East Godavari district 

Highlights

  • The submergence of villages will leave hundreds of people homeless
  • Already, backwaters are flowing in many mandals in Chinturu Agency area and sand dunes are submerged
  • The backwaters will enter villages within a short period

Kakinada: With Godavari catchment areas receiving rains, tribal people in 230 villages of East Godavari agency are in the grip of fear as there is impending threat of floods anytime because of the backwaters of Polavaram cofferdam.

Already backwaters are flowing in many mandals in Chinturu agency area and sand dunes are submerged. The people said if the sand dunes are submerged, the backwaters would enter villages within a short period. Some of the people of these mandals started shifting their belongings to the nearby hillock areas as they had got very bad experience in last year's floods and heavy rains which submerged their villages and cut off the transport system due to damaged roads.

According to sources, if flood waters reach 60 feet, nearly 45 villages may submerge in Kunavaram and VR Puram mandals of East Agency. Chinturu, ITDA Project Officer A Venkata Ramana told 'The Hans India' that they organised meetings in some of the villages and advised the people to evacuate when the heavy rains or floods come in. He said that in view of bad experiences last year, the ITDA would provide transport and other facilities to the people to evacuate the villages. He advised the agency people to shift to protect themselves from the floods and other calamities during the rainy season.

He stated that there is likelihood of heavy floods in rainy season this year. Last year they had recorded 22 lakhs cusecs of water entering the area. He said that they are taking precautionary measures to prevent any untoward incidents at the time of floods. The government will open rehabilitation centres with adequate supply of food, medicines, oxygen concentrators etc. He said that they have deployed some staff in order to create confidence and provide help to them. He also advised people not to be panicky and frightened in view of the safety measures taken by the government.

The official said that they are setting up the places for their rehabilitation. As per the Covid norms, they are taking necessary steps for protection of the people, he added.

Meanwhile, the farmers in the tribal areas are facing many hardships to go for the Kharif season. They said that the officials advised them not to till the lands in view of coming rains and floods. Many of the villages have come under 45th contour. Only one village in Kunavaram mandal comes under 42nd contour.

At present, the cofferdam works are in progress at 42nd contour. Previously, the tribal villages used to be submerged or inundated, when the water levels reached to 45 feet. But for the past two years, the villages were submerged when the water levels reached 35 feet. Now, the cofferdam is about to be completed at 42nd contour and likely to pose danger to the tribal people as the backwaters entered the tribal villages in Polavaram project affected areas.

The government has not started rehabilitation colonies in Chinturu Division yet and the Resettlement and Rehabilitation package has not been released till date. In these circumstances, the people are living under the grip of fear and they urged the government to provide immediate relief and save their lives.

A farmer N Srinivasa Rao said that they are asked to vacate their places by the officials concerned and they are in a quandary regarding the place for habitation. He questioned how they would eke out their livelihood, if they vacated the places without any cultivation. He said that they have to face a double crisis of Covid as well as unemployment. They are facing this problem every year without any help or solution from the authorities. He said that 45 to 50 villages in Kunavaram and VR Puram mandals were in the grip of fear of floods and the people were shifting their belongings to the nearby hillock areas. He requested the government to complete the rehabilitation and resettlement issues in Chinturu division and save the people of the area.

District Collector D Muralidhar Reddy, Polavaram Project Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) Special Commissioner O Anand and Rampachodavaram ITDA Project Officer Praveen Aditya inspected Indukerupeta R&R colony in the Rampa Agency on Wednesday.

The tribal villages Kachulruru, Sudda Konda and K Gonduru have been rehabilitated in the colony. Muralidhar Reddy stated that the State government is gearing up to hand over the land to the evacuees under the land to land component of the R&R package. 75 per cent of the financial package has been paid to the evacuees' families in the East Agency, he claimed.

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